On the night of September 19 and on into the early morning of September 20 in 1961, husband and wife Barney and Betty Hill were traveling South on Route 3 to their home in Portsmouth, NH, after vacationing in Montreal when, according to their story, they were followed by a spaceship and eventually accosted, kidnapped, examined, and then released by its extraterrestrial crew.
Today, the incident has been officially recognized by New Hampshire with a state marker outside the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln near the couple’s original route. However, close by is another, more enthusiastic memorial, located in the bathroom of a local gas station. The strange rest stop is an Irving Express located off exit 33 on I-93/Route 3, along the same route down which the Hills traversed that dark night decades past.
The exterior of the gas station has a large, plastic-covered eight-foot-square painting of a spindly, big-headed alien standing in the middle of a dark forest road. Above the painting are the words, “First Close Encounter of the Third Kind, Betty and Barney Hill, Sept. 19th, 1961.” Inside, clustered around the register counter, were various trinkets in alien form, including day-glo inflatables and key chains, as well as a few books on the topic.
But it’s in the gas station’s single, unisex bathroom where the magic lies. The walls inside the relatively spacious bathroom are plastered all over with articles about the Hills and other alien incidents, facsimiles of official documentation, drawings of extraterrestrials, photographs, spreadsheets regarding alien encounters, and images from science fiction TV shows and movies. Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker
Update September 2017: The gas station’s bathroom has been renovated and is now painted beige. There is no memorial in the bathroom, but some of the pieces and papers that were originally on the bathroom walls are now relocated to the wall by the beer coolers.
Know Before You Go
To see the official state historic marker, go to the Indian Head resort. If you park in the parking lot and face the road, walk right. Just off the resort's property on the side of route 3 is the historic marker. The gas station memorial is no longer in the bathroom. What remains is on the wall by the booze refrigerator. Enter the gas station, turn right, and walk to the end of the aisle.